Visa payments to be cut in Aug.
Credit card won’t be accepted for student tuition, fees
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012
Updated: Sunday, June 10, 2012 16:06
As the once-futuristic notion of a paperless society becomes an ever-increasing reality, the nation’s second-largest university will make it more difficult for students to pay for tuition and fees using credit cards.
UCF will no longer accept Visa for tuition payment effective Aug. 1, said Dan Mayo, associate controller for UCF Student Accounts. Students paying with MasterCard, American Express or Discover are subject to a 2-percent convenience fee.
This new percentage-based charge replaces a $10 flat fee.
Using a credit card to pay for tuition and fees for a full-time course load in the fall will now cost between $50-$70, according to the Office of Student Financial Assistance tuition calculator.
This amount is even greater for non-Florida residents, students in limited-access programs and students taking online or graduate courses.
For radio/television junior Demetrius Watts, these changes could not come at a more inopportune time. Between attending classes on UCF’s main campus and interning at WPYO Power 95.3 near his home in West Orlando, Watts spends about $20 in gas and tolls each day he commutes to UCF. Watts says the money he might shell out in August to pay for “inconvenient convenience fees” would be better spent on necessities like groceries or textbooks.
“I think it’s very unfair,” Watts said. “Come on, now; everyone knows this is about making more money.”
The 21-year-old Pensacola native, who dreams of one day becoming a radio personality, said increases to the credit card convenience fee are indicative of what he perceives as the administration’s “disregard” for students.
“As a student, I’m just a number,” Watts said. “I wish they’d live a day in my shoes to see what it’s really like.”
Mayo said UCF’s chief financial officer approved the elimination of Visa as a payment method to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
“Visa’s requirements don’t allow for charging a percentage-based convenience fee,” Mayo said in an email. “By eliminating Visa and its requirements that also bound our financial arrangement with other card companies, we’ll now be able to charge a percentage-based fee.”
The office’s website states that this change was adopted because the cost to process credit card payments for tuition and fees often exceeds the flat $10 convenience fee charged for each transaction.
Mayo said UCF will reassess the percentage fee amount to ensure it does not exceed processing costs.
However, students will not be reimbursed in cases where the cost to process a credit card payment is less than the convenience fee charged as it is non-refundable.
Micro & molecular biology seniors Ana Camagay and Sinsdy Cajuste are eager to graduate. The two friends said they have grown weary of the routine fee increases around campus.
“Where is the excess percentage fee going toward? Oversight funds?” Camagay said. “It’s unbelievable. To put it bluntly, we’re just cash cows for this school.”
Cajuste says the convenience fee increase makes UCF students feel unwelcome. She warns that UCF should focus more on becoming the best university in the nation rather than the biggest.
“I don’t even feel like I’m just a number anymore,” Cajuste said. “I feel more like a decimal.”
“If the school doesn’t start considering the people who are actually giving them money, they’ll lose money in the end, even if costs keep going up,” he said.
Watts says if word spreads that students are dissatisfied with their relationship with UCF’s administration, enrollment might decrease as prospective students could apply elsewhere.
He also warns that if students feel exploited by the constant rise of tuition and fees during their time at UCF, the future alumni will be less inclined to give back to their alma mater.
“They’re taking all my money while I’m here so they’ll get no donations from me,” Watts said. “People just want to get out of here.”
For students with checking accounts hoping to avoid the new percentage-based charge, the university will now eliminate the $10 convenience fee from electronic checks sent through a myUCF account. Checks and money orders can also be mailed or dropped off at Millican Hall. Students whose only available payment method is a Visa credit card may be able to obtain a cash advance or convenience check from their credit card company.